Symbolism of the KI seal

Denna sida på svenska

Right from from the founding more than 200 years ago, Karolinska Institutet has used the seal with the symbols of a snake bowl, the rod of Asclepius and a cockerel as its hallmark. Over the years, the seal gradually changed to suit the requirements of current times, but always retaining it character.

The rod of Asclepius

The rod of Asclepius is named after the god of medicine, Aesculapius or Asclepius. This ancient god was the son of Apollo and was generally accompanied by a snake. Over time, the snake became coiled around the staff borne by the god.

The snake bowl

The snake bowl was originally depicted together with Asclepius' daughter, the virgin goddess of health Hygieia or Hygiea. The snake ate from her bowl, which was considered to bring good fortune. There is nothing to support the notion that the snake would secrete its venom into the bowl.

The cockerel

The cockerel symbolises new life and was sacrificed to Asclepius by those who had recovered from illness. This is the meaning behind the Greek philosopher Socrates' last words after he drank the poisoned cup: "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget."